July 31, 2010

JOLIET, IL, 31 July – Fittingly, Tony Buffomante cruised to a fourth season pole, with a half second advantage over title rival Jason von Kluge. The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge’s penultimate round at the Autobahn Country Club has been Buffomante’s domain all weekend long having resided at the top of the time sheets after every session. On the second of three laps, Buffomante drove the No. 34 Capaldi Racing Ford Mustang FR500S around the 3.5 miles of Autobahn’s full circuit in 2:40.635 seconds. 82 Autowerks/ICY Racing’s Kyle Gimple will line up behind Buffomante in the third starting position fresh off his first series win at the previous round in New Jersey.

With the pole, Buffomante claws back one point from von Kluge in the season standings, narrowing his deficit to just 5 points with three races yet to go in the 2010 championship.

Mustang Challenge qualifying took place at the end of a long day of activity. With six other series having had use of the track before the Mustangs took their turn, it was dirty, greasy and layered with a variety of different tire compounds. That made generating heat in the BF Goodrich tires a tall order with the result being very low amounts of useful grip to go fast. Unusually, that meant qualifying times slower than practice times.

“The track was just really dirty,” said Buffomante who also had the advantage of sleeping in his own bed for race weekend. “I’m happy to be on the pole. Obviously, it’s the best view at the start of the race and we need every point we can get, but I am a little frustrated with the car’s handling. We need to find a bit more grip with the rear end tonight. So we’ll all get together this evening and give it some thought. I know we’ll have a good car come the race tomorrow morning.”

Chasing Buffomante all weekend, has been the No. 19 JVK Motorsports Mustang of von Kluge. Despite snaring the outside front row, von Kluge is staring at a tall order to catch Buffomante who clearly has the measure of the field. Normally, von Kluge is neat and tidy in qualifying, able to master the tire’s golden lap to maximum affect. Today, however, he pushed hard on his flyer, making a small mistake along the way. Thus, he was forced to run a second fast lap, a fact he wasn’t overly concerned with.

“I’m happy with were I am on the front row. I pushed really hard on my first flying lap and ended up having to throw it away and try again. My fast lap ended up being a decent one, and while it’s not the pole, I don’t think it will affect my race,” said von Kluge who rides with the support of Steeda and Varsity Ford as well as Green Filter USA. “I learned at the last race, that if I’m not at the lead at the start, it’s going to be a matter of being patient and letting the opportunity come to me. It’s a long race, on a long track, so we’ll see what happens. But, make no mistake, I’m racing for the win.”

The 25-minute qualifying session began with von Kluge setting the target time of 2:41.831, only to have it eclipsed moments later by Buffomante’s pole-winning lap. Kyle Gimple briefly made it an all Capaldi Racing front row when he recorded a lap at 2:41.826 seconds.

On their next time through, both Gimple and Ben Crosland were able to improve their times, but not their positions. They were second and fourth respectively.

Halfway through the session the order was Buffomante ahead of Gimple, von Kluge, Crosland, Brad Adams, Richard Golinello and John Scarlett.

Just past the halfway mark, von Kluge made his leap to the front row, displacing Gimple. As the clock ticked down the minutes, everyone bar Buffomante and von Kluge made their final bids for improvement. Only John Scarlett mustered any improvement in position, coming on his eighth of eight laps to take his best-ever qualifying result to date.

Like everyone else, the first comment from Gimple related to the track condition.

“It was so slick out there. I could get the rear end planted, which wasn’t a big deal in some of the slower corners, but it really made the fast sweepers difficult and I think that is where I was losing the majority of time,” said Gimple. “I think being on the inside of the second row could be a bonus. Tony (Buffomante) always makes great starts, so I just need to stay tucked up to his bumper and may be I can squeeze by into second at the start.”

The second row thus will feature the two, first time series winners from New Jersey. Ben Crosland will start alongside Gimple. Crosland’s best stopped the clocks at 2:42.719 seconds.

Row three will host Brad Adams on the inside and John Scarlett, whose last lap dash boosted him of Richard Golinello by a 0.07 seconds, as the frequent Greenfilterusa.com award winner looks to do it again on Sunday.

Round 9 of the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge will take the green flag at 10:30 AM CDT. Follow it live on mustangchallenge.com.

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